Zachary Lazar talks to Mary Jo Bang about her radical translation of Dante’s Inferno: in an attempt to render the shock Dante caused by writing in conversational Italian rather than the conventional Latin, Bang translated Dante’s text in modern-day English adorned with references to American pop culture. A sample of the text is available online.
“According to David Means and his debut novel, Hystopia, [classic war novels] aren’t simply about confronting the horrors of war, but also about concealing them, hiding them under a layer of rationalizations and wishful thinking that often simplifies their lawless anarchy and finds sense, meaning and purpose where there’s little.” Over at Electric Lit, Simon Chandler reviews David Means’s Hystopia.
It’s not easy being a seagull. Over at the London Review of Books, Mary Wellesley takes a sympathetic look at how the much-maligned bird has been treated throughout the history of literature. Afterwards, let this essay from The Millions by Kristen Scharold on the joys of birdwatching lift your spirits a bit.
The Tournament of Books rolls along with a few first round upsets (Congratulations, Sarvas!), but the highlight thus far might be a glimpse of Junot Díaz’s one-of-kind victor’s shirt from last year.Meanwhile, Stop Smiling offers up a Díaz interview.John Leonard’s son compiles a concordance to his father’s vigorous criticism, in which “thug,” “libidinal,” and “linoleum” make the top 10.The breathless inventorying of Roberto Bolaño’s posthumous papers continues.Our friend Eliza Barclay reports from the Andes, finding little cause for optimism.Victor Lavalle becomes the most recent essayist spurred to eloquence by the Obama inauguration.Also from the Atlantic, Hitchens and Marx: On again?James Wood and Claire Messud get grilled – sort of – by The Harvard Crimson: he’s the chef, she does laundry.The people who put William Kristol on payroll show themselves capable of good judgment. Congratulations, Ross Douthat!Wikipedia find of the week: beghilos (aka calculator spelling)Audrey Niffeneger is not feeling the recession. The NYT says $5 mil for The Time Traveler’s Wife follow-up.NPR explores the doodles of powerful people.CAAF spends some time with the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus and pauses on “limn.”Clay Shirky elucidates, perhaps better than most media pundits have, why newspapers need to be “thinking the unthinkable.”
On the persistent popularity and flexibility of Cinderella, from old folktales featuring talking gourds all the way to the upcoming Disney version, from NPR.